Our doctors are on hand to help you find the best ways to treat your RSI. They can offer practical advice and refer you to a specialist if needed.
Let’s take a closer look at how to treat RSI.
How is a RSI treated?
Repetitive Strain Injury RSI can be treated in a number of ways. The treatment will usually help to relieve the pain and help prevent symptoms getting worse. The doctor will assess the severity of your symptoms and base your treatment on your personal circumstances. This will make sure it is most effective and help you recover as quickly as possible.
Firstly, you and the doctor need to identify what activity in your daily routine has lead to the injury. This is most commonly a sport or work-related action. When you know what has caused the problem, you will be able to modify how you carry out the activity, or stop it altogether.
If it is work-related you may need to speak to your employer about making changes to how you work.
If the problem is from a sporting activity, you can make sure you get coaching on improving your technique or use sports aids that prevent injury.
You may also find the following helpful:
- Painkillers - anti-inflammatory painkillers, including ibuprofen, may be recommended.
- Ice or heat pack - using an ice or hot compress can help reduce swelling and pain in the affected area. You can place a bag of frozen peas in a towel and hold it to the joint, or wrap a hot water bottle in a towel.
- Rest - you should try to rest the affected joint as recommended by a medical professional. Elevate it regularly too if possible. You can gradually introduce gentle exercises to prevent stiffness and to help build up strength.
If your RSI is severe and doesn’t respond to the treatments above, you may be recommended:
- Splints or supports - this helps support your muscles and tendons.
- Corticosteroid injections - these can help reduce pain and swelling.
- Physiotherapy - you may need to do some physio exercises to help build up your muscle strength.
- Surgery - in severe cases you may need surgery to treat the injury, though this is usually a last resort.
You may also find that gentle exercise and relaxation techniques can help you to cope with the symptoms and manage the pain.
If you participate in high-impact sports, such as running, it’s likely that you will need to avoid these activities if you develop RSI. A doctor or physiotherapist will advise you when you will be able to start these activities again and can advise on the best ways to avoid future problems.
How long does RSI take to heal?
If you take the right preventative steps and seek treatment as soon as possible, RSI should heal within six months.
In some cases, the symptoms of RSI can become a long-term, chronic problem.
How to prevent RSI
The problem of RSI can be more common in certain jobs. If you work at a desk all day or carry out repetitive actions at work, there are some steps you can take to prevent RSI:
- Make sure your work space is suitable and comfortable. If you work at a desk, check that your chair, keyboard and screen are set in positions that won’t cause any strain - your employer should be able to help you assess this. You can read more tips here.
- Maintain good posture - whether you work at a desk, checkout or on an assembly line, make sure that you are positioned correctly.
- Take regular breaks - short breaks often are better than one long break.
- Use relaxation techniques to reduce stress, as tense muscles can encourage a RSI.
- Keep yourself healthy - eat a balanced diet and get regular exercise.
What happens if a RSI is left untreated?
If you notice any pain, numbness or swelling in your joints or muscles that doesn’t go away after resting, it is always best to get the problem looked at. RSI may become even more painful and lead to reduced motion, weakness or disability of the affected area if left untreated.
Our doctors will be able to recommend the most suitable treatment to help your RSI symptoms before complications occur.
- NHS, Repetitive strain injury (RSI):How is RSI Treated, 27/01/2016.
- Dr Laurence Knott & Dr Adrian Bonsall. Patient Info, Repetitive Strain Injury, 06/07/2017.
- Marjorie Hect & Dr Alana Biggers. Healthline, Everything You Should Know About Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), 09/03/2017.